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Greta Thunberg’s Twitter takedown of former kickboxer turned influencer Andrew Tate has gone down as one of the most liked Tweets of all time.
But the spectacular Twitter exchange and the dramatic events that took place after it should be immortalized as additional proof (as if we needed more) of the link between toxic masculinity, expressed through misogynistic hate speech, and violence against women.
Oh, and yeah, and a reminder that we need to take care of the environment.
First, a short recap:
It all started with Tate taunting Thunberg on Twitter, bragging about his car collection and referencing a speech Thunberg made at a previous COP (Conference of Parties) climate conference.
Tate said that Thunberg should give him her email address so he could show her his 33 cars and their “enormous emissions.”
Thunberg’s clapback was gold: “Yes, please do enlighten me. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.”
Thunberg’s reply set the internet ablaze and was shared more than 300,000 times in a matter of hours.
Not just about words: The link between hate speech and violence against women
Beyond a British professional kickboxer and self-proclaimed misogynist being cut down to size by a teenager nearly half his age, why is this relevant?
Well, apart from its “pass the popcorn” spectator value, we should remember that Tate sees and uses the debasement of women as a marketing tool to make money.
Domestic violence charities and numerous studies see extreme misogyny such as that displayed by Tate as dangerous for its potential to radicalize men and boys to commit offline violence.
Tate’s incendiary videos, which include quotes about women being property of men, have been viewed more than 11.6 billion times on TikTok. Read that again: 11.6 billion times. In July, Google searches for Tate reportedly outnumbered searches for Donald Trump and Kim Kardashian.
With help from copycat accounts on TikTok, Tate’s followers are told to flood social media with his most controversial videos to ramp up views and engagement.
UK news outlets like The Guardian and The Observer have documented all of this as a coordinated and blatant attempt to game TikTok’s algorithm and artificially boost Tate’s content. In less than three months, Tate’s strategy roped in more than 127,000 members – mostly men and boys from the UK and the US – who pay £39/$49.99 per month to be part of Tate’s Hustler University community where members can learn how to be millionaire from a “select network of experts in freelancing, cryptocurrency, and investing.”
Tate had earlier been banned from Twitter until Elon Musk – another man who has an “enormous emissions” problem – reinstated his account.
Tate embodies the link between toxic masculinity and the debasement of women.
Tate’s Twitter faceoff with Thunberg, and his video where pizza from a popular Romanian chain were delivered to him, led to his arrest in Romania on charges of human trafficking, rape, and links to an organized crime group. Tate and his posse reportedly recruited women using the loverboy method (also known as the RomeoPimp method) where they seduce women for the purpose of sexually exploiting them.
Authorities have identified six victims who were “subjected to acts of violence and mental coercion…to force them to create porn.”
Any time someone dismisses rape jokes and macho sexist speech, or enables misogyny, show them Tate and how his own braggadocio led to his spectacular unraveling.
So many golden life and advocacy lessons to be learned from the defeat and arrest of Tate:
The normalization of hate speech on social media needs to be policed, and harmful personalities like Tate need to be banned.
Never believe a man when he brags about his “enormous emissions.”
And yes, as Thunberg said, pizza boxes should be recycled. – Rappler.com
Ana P. Santos reports on the intersections of gender, sexuality, and labor migration. Follow her on Twitter @iamAnaSantos and IG: @anaallsaints.